Hospital district reports high numbers of patients at after-hours clinic in Presidio after program launch

PRESIDIO — At Tuesday night’s Big Bend Regional Hospital District (BBRHD) meeting, grant administrator Lynette Brehm reported that Presidians were taking advantage of new healthcare programs made available through grant funding. The data showed positive trends ahead of a grand opening ceremony for the new Big Bend Regional Health (BBRH) Clinic to be held on Wednesday, November 29, and open to patients the following day.

Last June, the BBRHD announced that Presidio and Terlingua would be the recipients of a $5.5 million grant from the USDA to expand local healthcare offerings. Presidio was apportioned the bulk of the funding to establish an after-hours clinic and a community paramedicine program that would serve locals outside of regular business hours and — for housebound Presidians — at their places of residence. 

At a well-attended town hall hosted in August, many Presidians complained that they sometimes had to wait weeks for appointments at the existing Preventative Care Health Services (PCHS) clinic — leaving few treatment options for conditions that weren’t necessarily emergencies but required quick care, like fevers and minor injuries. 

Presidio EMT Jessica Murillo told the crowd that she hoped the new clinic would alleviate these issues. “This is the reality for Presidio,” she said. “Unfortunately, there just aren’t the resources here.” 

Through the grant, PCHS was able to extend its hours beyond regular business hours to include walk-in appointments from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, as well as offering care on two Saturdays a month. The program has been up and running since the beginning of September.

Brehm said that — so far — numbers at the PCHS after-hours clinic showed that locals were taking advantage of the new services — 186 “physician contacts,” to be precise, since the service started booking appointments in September. “From day one, they were booking appointments for after-hours,” she said. 

The new BBRH clinic is intended to supplement the new care offerings at the PCHS clinic and will share space with the Big Bend Regional Hospital District office at 602 West O’Reilly Street in downtown Presidio three days a week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The grant will also fully fund a pharmacist’s salary and work to grow a case management program, which helps chronically ill or disabled patients develop an individualized healthcare plan. Twenty new Presidians had taken advantage of that service in the month of October.

A portion of the funding has also gone towards establishing a community paramedicine program, which enables qualified emergency medical personnel to assist patients beyond 911 calls. The program includes home visits to provide help with medication management, follow-up visits and more. 

Brehm reported that the program had seen 31 patient contacts since the beginning of October, and that Presidio EMS staff had been going door-to-door to let people know that the program was up and running. “We’ve heard some touching stories,” she said. 

She hoped that these numbers were just the beginning of an upward trend — particularly with the extended clinic services that Presidians had been hoping to see for years. “I’d like to see some more advertising done on that,” she said. “Some people don’t know that it’s open yet, but it’s off to a really good start.”